• Ansonia-Milford J.D., at Milford
  • CV13-5010943S
  • Mar 07 2014 (Date Decided)
  • Brazzel-Massaro, J.

Allegations that a grandchild suffered emotional distress as a result of observing injuries to a grandfather can be sufficient to allege a cause of action for bystander emotional distress. On May 14, 2012, the plaintiff, Francis Syc, leased an apartment from the defendants, Stephanie and Joseph Boudreau. Allegedly, Syc started to leave his apartment with his granddaughter, Emily Besse, when he observed that the Boudreau’s dog was in the common area. Syc instructed his granddaughter to immediately run to his apartment and close the door. Allegedly, the Boudreaus’ dog attacked Syc, and he suffered puncture wounds, lacerations and the partial loss of a finger. Syc’s granddaughter allegedly observed her grandfather’s wounds, when the family drove her grandfather to the hospital. Syc and his granddaughter sued the Boudreaus and alleged that they were negligent and reckless, and that the granddaughter suffered bystander emotional distress. The defendants moved to strike the bystander emotional-distress count and argued that Connecticut courts do not permit a grandchild to allege bystander emotional distress as a result of observing a grandfather’s injury, because a grandfather is not a child or a spouse. Bystander emotional distress requires proof that: 1.) the bystander is closely related to the injury victim; 2.) the bystander’s emotional injury is caused by contemporaneous sensory perception of the event or conduct that causes the injury, or by arriving on the scene soon thereafter; 3.) the victim’s injury is substantial; and 4.) the bystander’s emotional injury is serious. The modern family unit may extend beyond parents and children. Grandparents may serve as caregivers and possess a very important role in the lives of grandchildren. The plaintiffs adequately alleged a cause of action for bystander emotional distress, and the court denied the motion to strike.